Appeal Your NICS Denial

Gun RightsFinally, there is some great news for people whose Second Amendment (2A) rights were improperly denied. The FBI’s The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) website again has an appeals page. Many firearms owners and hopeful gun purchasers were wrongly denied gun purchases following their NICS check. For the last year, these people had no opportunity to appeal… Until now. If you were denied a purchase, you can appeal your NICS denial.

Halting Gun Sales

In October 2015, NICS’s appeals workers were transferred to other positions within the organization. People who were denied the purchase of a firearm had no recourse. The NRA and other 2A organizations and authorities decried the transfer of employees as a backhanded attempt at preventing legitimate firearms purchases by eligible citizens.

Would be purchasers were out of luck. They could file an appeal, but there were no employees to process the appeal. Those appeals kept rolling in and piling up as frustrated purchases took what steps they could to correct the improper denial of their 2A rights.

Reclaiming Firearms Rights

We’re almost out of the woods now. People who appealed their NICS firearms purchase denial now have a chance at relief. Those who have recently been denied, should feel encouraged to appeal the NICS finding of ineligibility to purchase a gun. Unfortunately, there is still a year and  a half backlog of previously filed appeals.

If you were denied a firearm purchase following your NICS check, there are some things you need to know and do. Make sure that you get any information about the denial that you can. FFLs should give you whatever information they received, which generally isn’t much, but it will help you start the appeal process.

The next thing you’ll want to do is visit the FBI NICS information website here. It’s a pretty easy site to navigate, and it will help you get the information you need to file an appeal. You can definitely start the process on your own, and if you are again denied, you may want to contact an attorney to help you out.

If you have any 2A questions, call the attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates for a free consultation, (253)683-4180.

False-Confession-Lawyer

Marijuana Arrests, Excessive Sentences

Growing Jail Population

Weed_JointAt least 137,000 men and women are behind bars on simple drug possession charges including marijuana arrests. The ACLU and Human Rights Watch report indicates that nearly two-thirds of these people are locked up in local jails. Most of these inmates have not even been convicted of a crime. They are sitting in a cell because they simply can’t afford to post bail. Many of these people lose months of their lives, their jobs their homes and their possessions.

“It’s been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared and it hasn’t been a success,” said lead author Tess Borden. “Rates of drug use are not down.” Federal figures on drug arrests and drug use over the past three decades tells the story. Drug possession arrests skyrocketed. There were fewer than 200 arrests for every 100,000 people in 1979. By the mid-2000s that 200 number had grown to to more than 500. The drug possession rate has since fallen slightly, according to the FBI, hovering now around 400 arrests per 100,000 people.

Drug Use Continues to Grow

Defenders of harsh drug possession penalties say they’re necessary to deter people from using drugs and protect the public health. This “tough-on-crime” approach has led to a surge in arrest rates over the last three decades. It has also been largely ineffective in preventing drug use.

 Illicit drug use today is more common among Americans age 12 and older than it was in the early 1980s. Federal figures show no correlation between drug possession arrests and rates of drug use during that time. Still, arrests for drug possession continue to make up a significant chunk of modern-day police work.

American “police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime,” according to FBI data. “More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession”, according to the report. That equates to more than 1.25 million arrests each year. In fact, police make more arrests for marijuana possession alone than for all violent crimes combined.

Treatment Not Jail

The report calls for decriminalizing the personal use and possession of drugs, treating it as a public health matter instead of a criminal one. “Rather than promoting health, criminalization can create new barriers to health for those who use drugs,” the report says. “Criminalization drives drug use underground; it discourages access to emergency medicine, overdose prevention services, and risk-reducing practices such as syringe exchanges.”

The report reinforces its point by noting the lengthy sentences handed down in some states for possession of small amounts of drugs. In Texas, 116 people are currently serving life sentences on charges of simple drug possession. Seven of those people earned their sentences for possessing quantities of drugs weighing between 1 gram and 4 grams, or less than a typical sugar packet. That’s because Texas also has a habitual offender law, allowing prosecutors to seek longer-than-normal sentences for people who have two prior felonies. “In 2015, more than 78 percent of people sentenced to incarceration for felony drug possession in Texas possessed under a gram,” the report found.

Martha McLaughlin
Sr. Associate Attorney
Durflinger Oliver & Associates

Are Sex Offenders Getting Enough Treatment?

sex_offender_therapyOffenders Got Too Little Treatment

Judges in Washington State routinely gave too little treatment to sex offenders. The problem was caused by incorrect sentencing language on a court form. Courts have been relying on that form since 2008. As a result, many sex offenders received reduced community supervision and treatment time for some Washington sex offences.

Government Employees Knew About The Problem

Newly released documents reveal that courts and corrections officers knew about the problem since 2010. They did nothing to correct it. An email between state workers identified the sentencing problem. The issue was also a subject for discssion in a State government meeting. Meeting members were to discuss issues caused by the faulty form.

Courts in some counties used the felony judgment and sentencing form for the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA) program. The chief aim of the program is to reduce the risk of future criminal behavior. SSOSA is only available for low level offenders who pose little risk ot the community. The program is effective because of the intensive treatment requirements.

Incorrect court form language cut treatment short for some offenders. Not only that, but the improper language reduced SSOSA jail time. That reduction caused officials to improperly calculate the appropriate amount of community supervision for offenders. Although, court officials fixed the form in January, problems remained.

The Department of Corrections, looking for errors, reviewed the sentences of current SSOSA program members. The review identified at least 73 sex offenders who received too little community supervision. The review found 32 other offenders who were supervised for too long. Officials ended monitoring for the latter group as soon as the error was discovered.

Do Police Get Away With Murder?

Unarmed victim

Police shot Charles Kinsey. Video showed him on the ground with raised hands.

Is anyone accountable when police murder? The answer might be no. Washington State formed a task force to reduce law enforcement-involved shootings. The law that protects police officers from criminal charges is dividing task force members. Some believe in law enforcement immunity, others claim it gives police officers a free pass to kill.

The Law Protects Police

A 1986 state law effectively shields police officers from work related murder charges even when they were wrong. Prosecutors cannot charge officers with murder absent a showing of malice or evil intent. The law protects officers who use deadly force even when it’s deemed reckless or negligent, said Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Executive Secretary, Tom McBride.

Recklessness is when an officer knows that what he is doing puts innocent people at risk, but he takes the action anyway. Imagine a case where an officer empties her gun into a crowd of innocent people just to get one bad guy.

Negligence is where an officer simply didn’t do what a reasonable officer would have done. These scenarios include, for instance, officers shooting people holding cell phones and not weapons. Perhaps the officer should have known better, and should have acted differently.

Currently, it’s not enough to allege that an officer was reckless, or negligent. Prosecutors have to prove that the officer acted with malice. That means that the officer basically intended to do wrong in shooting someone. This can be hard to prove. If an officer simply says that he felt threatened, then no jury is likely to find malice. As a result, officers in Washington State are basically immune from prosecution for wrongful homicides committed on the job.

Advocates Want Protection from Police Murder

Reform advocates on the task force pushed for deleting the malice requirement. Prosecutors could charge reckless or negligent officers if the malice requirement is removed. “The malice requirement is an impossible threshold for prosecutors to meet”, stated a committee member. Additionally, prosecutors and police officers often see themselves as teammates. Prosecutors rarely charge one of their own. Unfortunately, African Americans are often on the losing end of police interactions. They are also more likely to helplessly watch as police officers get away with bad behavior.

An analysis by the Seattle times last year found that between 2005 and 2014 police officers were disproportionately likely to kill members of the black community. Prosecutors brought homicide charges against an officer in only one of 213 shootings. The officer fired his gun through the back window of a car killing the driver. A jury acquitted. They could not find that the officer had acted with malice.

At least one task force member argues that changing the statute and holding officers accountable would build trust between law enforcement and minority communities. Others urged lawmakers to maintain the law as written. The Kennewick Chief of Police, Ken Hohenberg, doesn’t believe that any change in the law would help. Making police more accountable “won’t help reduce violent interactions involving police”, he said. “More police training and better information are the answers to inappropriate violence”, Hohenberg suggested.

A member of the panel representing the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington, Cynthia Softli, voiced concerns that removing the malice requirement might put officers at risk. Potential criminal charges could distract officers, according to Softli. That distraction might in turn slow officer reactions in dangerous situations.

The task force is made up of lawmakers, representatives of police, community groups and legal organizations. They will recommend changes for lawmakers to consider. A campaign to remove the malice and good faith portions from Washington’s law is gathering signatures in hopes of sending an initiative to the Legislature next year. Supporters of Initiative 873 gathered at the Capitol on Monday to call for change to the malice requirement. They seek greater police accountability.

Some police representatives said that officers should not be punished if they killed someone in good faith. Others said they were concerned that judging good faith can be as subjective as determining malice. No other state has malice or good faith requirements, but a few have subjective standards, said Jeff Robinson, the director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union who made the presentation. Robinson captured attention while showing videos of police killings in other states, including the 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan Mcdonald, 17, in Chicago. McDonald was wielding a knife but walking away from officers when fired. Officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times and is facing first-degree murder charges.

 

 

When Innocent People Confess

For those of you that believe that innocent people do not confess to crimes they did not commit, you may want to take a look at the Brendon Dassey case. A Federal Court overturned his conviction because of a false confession. Police obtained the confession by using coercion, which violated the Constitution.

False Confession

Dassey went to prison because of a false confession.

Brendan Dassey became the topic of arm chair lawyers everywhere when Netflix’s hit series “Making a Murderer” became a worldwide hit. The show followed the investigation and trials of Brendan Dassey and his uncle, Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach. Police made Brendan Dassey admit that he helped his uncle murder of Teresa Halbach.

Prosecutor in Dassey’s case told jurors that “innocent people don’t confess to crimes they did not commit”. Unfortunately, that statement was not true. There is too much evidence that many innocent people have confessed to crimes that they did not commit.

Studies Document False Confessions

More than 25% of innocent people in prison made false confessions[1].  A big reason for this huge margin of error is that police use improper interrogation techniques. Many people do not realize that police lie about evidence and make false promises and threats. Courts have said that it’s okay for police to lie and threaten.

Brendan Dassey’s investigators used the Reid Method of questioning[2] to get his false confession. Critics argue that the Reid method is unfair and likely to elicit false confessions. Sadly, Police love the Reid Method.

Some People Are More At Risk

Studies have shown that juveniles, and adults below average intelligence or mental health issues are particularly at risk of making false confessions. This truth is nothing new.

In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its famous Miranda decision. In doing so it singled out the Reid Method for creating a hostile and coercive environment for suspects. The Court held that the Reid Method and similar approaches demand that police inform suspects of their right to remain silent. They must also advise suspects that they have a right to a lawyer during any police interrogation.

Unfortunately, most juveniles and people with below average intelligence or mental illness often do not understand the Miranda warnings and give up their rights.  Investigators then grill these people, often for hours at a time, using the Reid Method and other harsh techniques. Many legal professionals believe that children should always have an attorney present during any police questioning. These experts believe that the recent rash of exonerations is proof that police shouldn’t interrogate children. Police often terrorize children and their families during questioning.

Juvenile False Confession

  • 17 year old Martin Tankleff confessed to murdering both of his parents[3]. Detectives told him that they had found a lock of his hair in his dead mother’s hand. They also lied that his father blamed Tankleff for the murder just before dying. Tankleff eventually believed he must have done it, saying, “My father never lies.” He spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. In 2007 a New York State appeals court vacated his conviction. Prosecutors dropped charges in 2008. Tankleff eventually settled a wrongful conviction lawsuit for $3.4 million.
  • 14 year old Michael Crowe confessed to stabbing his 12 year old sister. Police interrogated him without his parents or an attorney[4]. He initially denied any involvement, but officers using the Reid Method broke him down. They lied about evidence and convinced him to confess to the murder and implicate two of his friends. The charges against Michael and friends were later dismissed after police found the actual killer and lifed the dead girl’s DNA from his clothing. The Escondido Police department later agreed to pay $7.5 million in damages for the trauma that they caused the family following the murder of their daughter.
  • 14 year old Lorenzo Montoya confessed to the murder of Emily Johnson in 2000 after he was interrogated without a parent or lawyer[5]. Like Brendon Dassey and Michael Crowe, he initially denied any involvement in the murder but Police successfully used the Reid Method to elicit his confession. Police lied to Lorenzo telling him that they had found evidence linking him to the crime scene. He served 13 years in prison before being exonerated with DNA evidence. He is currently suing the Denver Police Department for 30 million dollars.

Average People Also Confess

Victims of false confessions include average adults. On June 6, 2004, three year old Riley Fox disappeared from her home. Authorities found her body in nearby woods. Someone had sexually assaulted and murdered her[6]. Prosecutors initially charged her father, Kevin Fox, with the child’s murder. They made their charging decision based almost entirely the father’s videotaped confession. That confession was false.

Kevin Fox spent eight months in prison before DNA evidence cleared him of the murder. The actual murderer, Scott Eby, later confessed to killing the girl. The Fox family won $15 million in a law suit. The state is still appealing the verdict.

Unfortunately, stories like Dassey’s and the others mentioned are not anomalies. They are a product of coercive and manipulative interrogation tactics. Tactics that are just as likely to induce a false confession, as elicit a true one. As any defense attorney will tell you, it is nearly impossible to overcome even a false confession at trial. Most jurors simply will not believe that an individual will confess to a crime that they did not commit. A lot of innocent people end up in prison as a result. Likewise, violent predators go free.

Remain Silent

People will be at risk until the coercive and manipulative Reid Method, and others like it, are prohibited. Protect yourself from a false confession by remaining silent and refusing to talk to police. An experienced criminal defense attorney will tell you that the single most important thing you can do if the police want to talk to you it to invoke your right to an attorney. This may seem counter-intuitive as an innocent person has nothing to hide. Tragically, the reality is that the police have been trained to get a confession, and using current interrogation methods they may just get it from you whether you are guilty or not.

[1] http://www.innocenceproject.org/causes/false-confessions-admissions/

[2] “The term ‘Reid Technique’ is a registered trademark of the firm John E. Reid and Associates, which offers training courses in the method they have devised. While the technique is widely used by law-enforcement agencies in North America, it has been criticized for its history of eliciting false confessions”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_technique

[3] A Criminal Injustice: A True Crime, a False Confession, and the Fight to Free Marty Tankleff, published by Ballantine Books in 2008

[4] Shattered Justice: A Savage Murder and the Death of Three Families’ Innocence. Avon Books. Philpin, John (July 25, 2006).

[5] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2661337/DNA-evidence-frees-man-prison-14-years-later.html

[6] http://abcnews.go.com/2020/riley-fox-parents-speak-scott-eby-charged-murder/story

False-Confession-Lawyer

Reasonable Bail?

Reasonable Bail AmountProsecutors and Judges in Washington State may soon be setting reasonable bail amounts in criminal cases. The United States Justice Department recently admitted that holding defendants simply because they can’t afford bail is likely unconstitutional.

Criminal Rule 3.2 – Bail

Washington Criminal Rule 3.2 creates the general presumption that a criminal Defendant shall be released from custody without having to post bail. The court is to examine whether the accused is likely to commit more crimes, or intimidate witnesses, or otherwise interfere with the administration of justice. The court should release on personal recognizance defendants who are likely to follow the rules.

A judge may impose no bail, or a reasonable bail. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant will appear in court. Bail is also supposed to protect the community. If the court can impose a significant bail if it determines that the accused is a danger to the community, or is a flight risk.

Unfortunately for many Pierce County criminal defendants, some judges have set bails that are so high that the accused cannot reasonably expect to be released. These cases include people who aren’t accused of violence, and aren’t at risk of skipping out on their court case.

The Constitution

The USDOJ brief stated that “Bail practices that incarcerate indigent individuals before trial solely because of their inability to pay for their release violate the Fourteenth Amendment.” The Constitution guarantees equal protection and when similarly situated people have bail set with no regard to ability to bail out, then some people are being treated differently.

The USDOJ brief was filed in the case of Maurice Walker of Calhoun, Georgia. Mr. Walker was arrested for being drunk in public. His bail was set at $160, which Walker was unable to post. As a result, he was held in jail for six nights following his drunken walk. There is no indication that Mr. Walker was a risk to the public, or a flight risk unlikely to return for court. As he could not afford to bail out, it seems clear that his bail was too high for this situation.

USDOJ lawyers argued that “Fixed bail schedules that allow for the pretrial release of only those who can pay, without accounting for the ability to pay,” the government said, “unlawfully discriminate based on indigence.” The Federal judge hearing the case agreed ordered to the city create a fairer system for defendants in minor criminal cases. The city appealed.

The city expressed concerns that without requiring bond, many people would have no incentive to return. It’s troubling that the city thinks it better to keep people jailed in petty offenses for which they have not been convicted, than to set a reasonable bail amount and run the risk that a small percentage of people might miss a future court date.

The city, not surprisingly, was joined by law enforcement and a group representing bail bondsmen. They advocated that indigence should not be considered in setting reasonable bail.

An Old Man and His Truck

Our firm recently represented a nice old man who was frustrated with a police officer. The officer accused the old man of not having a valid license. The old man was sure – and correct – that his license was fine. The officer didn’t like our client’s “bad” attitude.

The cop threatened to arrest the old man and tow his car. The old man pleaded that he wouldn’t be able to retrieve his vehicle and wouldn’t be able to bail out. The cop laughed – it was videotaped – and told the old man, “too bad”. The judge did not order a reasonable bail amount, and the old man sat in jail.

As it turned out, his license was good. The charges were eventually dropped but as a result of the arrest, he lost his job as well as his truck. He simply couldn’t afford the towing fees and impound charges once he was released.

Excessive bail can break up families, costs the accused his or her job, and it creates a host of other social issues. It’s nice to see the government finally accepting how destructive some of its policies can be.

For more info see the ABA article here.

If you or a loved one is at risk of losing liberty, call the attorneys at Durflinger Oliver for a free consultation, (253)683-4180.

Traffic Ticket Lawyer

Illegal Arrests Now Okay?

Illegal arrest

The U.S. Supreme Court is gradually eroding your 4th Amendment rights. Recent opinions give police broader powers to arrest citizens even if they are not breaking the law. Washington State has stronger protections against illegal search and seizure but, Prosecutors will be excited by recent SCOTUS cases.

Want more info? Read the this excellent article by law professor Erwin Chermerinsky as published in this month’s ABA Journal. 

Charged with Possession?

The attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates help those who have been charged with possession of a controlled substance or other contraband. Call (253)683-4180 today to schedule your free consultation.

Car Crash Checklist

What To Do Right After a Car Crash –

This Car Crash Checklist will give you a convenient resource for some of what you might want to do immediately after being in a car crash, or motor vehicle accident. The most important thing to consider is that you need to be safe, and keep your passengers safe before taking any action. You will likely have questions about what else you should be doing to get the best personal injury settlement, so you should call the skilled injury attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates, (253)683-4180, as soon as you are able. If you are unable to travel to our convenient Downtown Tacoma office, we can meet you at your home, or hospital room, for your free appointment.

Checklist

Date                  To Do                                                                         Name and # of Person

Can You Get Car Safely Off Road? If so, do so. Safety first. Do not put yourself in danger if it can be avoided.
Call 911 to report the car crash if you or Your Passengers need medical help.
Have your license and insurance information available, and exchange it with the other driver(s) in the collision.
Identify Witnesses, get their contact info, and indicate where they were located at the time of the collision.
Contact Law Enforcement to prepare collision report.
Photograph vehicles and area ONLY IF SAFE TO DO SO. Photograph interior of vehicles if airbags deployed, or items in car were displaced by collision.
Call for towing if your vehicle cannot be safely moved.
Go to Emergency Room if you are injured. Be careful to explain to physician, or Nurse, exactly where you hurt and whether the pain is related to the car crash.
Call your insurance agent. Ask whether you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) that covers your collision/crash. If so, ask for paperwork to open a PIP Claim.
Create a log of every person you speak with about your car crash (witnesses, insurance, doctors, healthcare experts, car repair shop).
Keep a Pain Log. Use the scale of ten to indicate how you are feeling with Ten being really bad pain, and Zero being no pain. If you have moderately bad right upper back pain on March 12, 2016, you might make a note in your log that reads: “3/12/16, Right Upper Back Pain, 6/10”. Give yourself bonus points for putting in what type of pain, such as “sharp, dull, aching, or burning”. Make sure you indicate whether the pain is related to your car crash.
Follow-up doctor appointments if necessary following your accident or car crash.
Do your home treatment as prescribed. If your doctor gives you exercises, or tells you what to do, or not do, follow his recommendations to the letter.

What To Do After An Accident

What to do after an accident.You might be wondering what to do after an accident. According to Wikipedia, “in 2010, there were an estimated 5,419,000 crashes (30,296 fatal crashes), killing 32,999 and injuring 2,239,000.” If you’re reading this, it is likely that you or someone you care about has recently been in a car crash and is wondering what to do next. This article will cover what to do at the accident scene, and after you leave.

Accident Scene.

Safety First. Get to a safe spot as safely as possible. Safety is the key. If you can safely move your car off the roadway to a safe spot immediately off the road, you should do so. Do not drive more than 10-15 seconds or you could be charged with failure to remain at the scene of an accident (hit and run), even if you didn’t cause the collision.

Medical Needs. How are you feeling? How are your passengers? Were any pedestrians injured? If anyone was hurt, call 911. If a person is unconscious or has suffered neck or back injuries, do not move them, and try to keep them as still and stable as possible. Moving someone with back or neck injuries can cause significant additional injuries.

Contact Law Enforcement. Call 911 and be ready to identify yourself, your location, the number of people and cars involved, and whether anyone is injured. Make the call even if there isn’t a lot of damage to your vehicle, or people aren’t seriously injured. You should know that many law enforcement agencies will not send an officer if the accident happened on private property, or if there is less than $2,000 in car damage.

Something else to consider is that law enforcement officers will often cite the driver who caused the accident. This can be helpful later. If officers do not show up at the accident, then you may need to create your own collision report online, or the local law enforcement offices.

Exchange Information. In Washington State, in fact in most states, you are required to exchange information with the other driver or drivers. Be prepared to provide your insurance and contact information. Make sure you get the other drivers’ info as well as the contact information for all passengers, too. This is an emotionally difficult period, so try to stay calm and polite. The one thing you definitely don’t want to do is apologize for anything. If someone apologizes, or admits to anything, take careful notes about what was said, who said it, and when it was said.

Witness Statements. Talk to as many witnesses as possible and find out what they saw, and where they were when they saw it. You’ll need their contact information, so get it. You should also advise them that you might have more questions later, and ask if you can call them.

Take Pictures. Can you safely get pictures of the cars at the accident, and of the accident scene? If so, do it. This may be your only chance to document the damage to the other vehicles.

After the Accident.

Notify your insurer. Call your insurance company and advise them that you’ve been in an accident. If you feel any discomfort at all, tell your insurance person. Your insurance adjuster will have questions, and you need to answer them completely and truthfully. You do not have an obligation to answer any questions from the other insurance company.

Medical Treatment. If you are in any pain or discomfort, you need to go to the hospital and get checked out. It is very important that you see a medical doctor, and not a chiropractor for the initial diagnosis. Make sure that you are very clear about what happened, and how you are feeling. Take notes about where you went, and who you saw for treatment. If they give you exercises, do the exercises. It is important to follow the treatment recommendations as closely as possible.

You should also keep a journal with notes about how you feel on given days. If your back hurts, note where it hurts, and how badly it hurts on a scale of 10, with 1 being almost no pain, and 10 being horrible pain. For instance, if your back hurts on the back left by your shoulder, you might indicate that your “back on upper left back side hurt 5/10”. If you can’t do normal things, write that down, too. If you can’t pick up your child, or if you have to put on shirts differently than before the accident, write it down.

Document Everything. Photographs and documents are your best friend in your case. Take pictures of your vehicle and any other property damage. It will be important in establishing damages later. Damages are the value of everything that was damaged in the accident. If you take your car in for a repair estimate, keep records of that. Likewise, if your car was towed, keep those records, too.

Repair Estimate. Your insurance company will either send an adjuster to examine your vehicle, or it will have you take your car to one of their adjuster for a repair estimate. You are also encouraged to seek out your own repair estimates. You are not required to go to a repair facility recommended by your insurance company, so feel free to shop around.

Avoid Quick Settlement. The insurance company of the person who caused the accident will likely call you and try to make you go away by offering you a quick settlement. Do not discuss the accident with that insurance company. If they make you an offer, speak with a personal injury attorney before taking any action. The other person’s insurance company is banking on the fact that you don’t know as much about negotiating an accident claim as they do, and they’ll take advantage of you. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible, and they don’t care whether you get what you deserve.

Hire an Attorney. The insurance companies have huge teams of very experienced attorneys and adjusters whose primary job is to ensure that the company pays out as little money as possible. They are experts at negotiating settlements and they get raises, promotions, and special recognition for making sure that people like you don’t get paid. The only way you are going to even the odds is by hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Almost every personal injury lawyer in the country will take your case on a contingent fee basis, which means that your lawyer won’t get paid until you do. Put another way, you won’t have to pay money out of pocket to hire a lawyer to fight for you.

Beware of Cannabis Blows 2017

respirator     Washington State University (WSU) researchers say they are about a year away from having a portable breath test that police can use to detect if someone has recently consumed weed and is driving under the influence.
Roadside breath tests already exist to detect whether drivers have consumed alcohol. But currently, officers have no similar device to test drivers for marijuana use. WSU researchers have completed their first round of testing of the marijuana breathalyzer and are making improvements.      The second round of testing is about to begin and the plan is to make the device available for police to use in the field sometime next year.
While police would still need to get a warrant and draw a person’s blood to see if they meet the legal definition of impairment under the state’s marijuana laws, a breath test could be a more reliable way to detect marijuana impairment than field sobriety tests that officers use now.
Initiative 502, which voters approved in 2012 to legalize recreational marijuana use, said drivers are considered impaired if they test positive for at least 5 nanograms of delta-9 THC per milliliter of blood. The marijuana breath test under development at WSU is designed to test for delta-9 THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana that causes someone to get high- not the metabolite that can stay in someone’s system for days or weeks. Right now, the test determines only whether delta-9 TCH is present in someone’s system, and not what level is in their blood.
Out of 30 times the test was recently used on someone before and after they smoked marijuana, it accurately detected TCH in the person’s system about half of the time. The test turned up only one false positive during the trials. Researchers are continuing to refine the breath test and will only improve on those results. The research team had already made changes that will help make the test more accurate going forward.

Criminal Attorney